Prevalence and offense characteristics of multiple casualty homicides: {Are} schools at higher risk than other locations?


Objective: In light of public concern about school shootings, this study examined the prevalence and offense characteristics of multiple casualty homicides across locations. Method: We used the FBI’s National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) to examine 18,873 homicide incidents involving 25,180 victims who were either killed or injured from 2005 through 2010. Results: Multiple casualty homicides were surprisingly common events, with approximately 22% of homicide incidents involving 2 or more victims. Multiple casualty homicides were much more common in residences (47%) versus schools (0.8%), but homicides in residences tended to have 1 victim (78%) rather than multiple victims (22%), whereas homicides in schools were about equally likely to have 1 victim (57%) or multiple victims (43%). Multiple homicides were more likely to involve firearms than weapons such as knives or blunt objects. Finally, there were statistical differences in offense characteristics for homicides with 1, 2, and 3 victims. Conclusion: These findings suggest that the public perception that schools are a high-risk location for homicides is inaccurate. Although concern about school shootings is understandable, the larger problem of multiple casualty shootings is more common in other locations which do not receive comparable media attention.

Psychology of Violence, 5, 236.